Rabbit’s Foot

Rabbit’s Foot

Encouragement From the Authors

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
     because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
~Isaiah 61:1-3

You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way...
You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way…

Here is something I have found to be true about God- He does not leave us alone. He will not leave us alone. He cannot seem to help reaching out to us. This might sound delightful, to have a God who cares so much about us that He will not leave us alone. If being alone is lonely and not fun, then having God in your corner is great! You’ve always got a friend! And it is great. God loves you, God wants to be with you- hallelujah!

The flip side of all this is… He is also a parent. And just like I can’t leave my children alone to try and discover the rights and wrongs of their actions, neither can God the Father leave me alone.

I heard this somewhere, and often repeat it:

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Today I am talking about the fact that this can’t-leave-you-alone-God keeps working on me. I had some definite plans on what the next few years of my life would look like. They seemed sensical to me. And possibly they were on the easy-to-achieve side of things. But I really saw the future ahead all lined up nice and neat… but God, He had a different plan. You can find lots of “but God”s in the Bible. Lots. And if you think back, I’m sure you can find plenty in your life.

So I am (once again) thrust out of my comfort zone and into new and uncharted territory. I think of it as growing-pains. I worry that maybe I have a bit too much on my plate this time. I begin to think I might not have what it takes. But (even though it’s hard to really grasp that I am an adult*) I have some years behind me now. And when I look back at those years, time and time again I see that God really does bring the best out of every situation. Even when I’ve thought “WHAT IS GOD THINKING!!” When I trust in Him, and lean on His mercy and grace- that’s when I see really amazing fruit in my life. In my own strength I often stumble and fall, but His grace is unending and unfailing. All too often I treat God like a lucky charm- like those rabbit’s foots that were so popular back in elementary school. I keep thinking that if I pray just the right prayer, then everything will go my way. But that’s not what is best for me. God is not content with just the good, He wants the best for us. Our good plans (even our best plans) are peanuts compared to the awesome future God is planning for us.

We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike... the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God's creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it's breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.
We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike… the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God’s creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it’s breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.

If you are standing in one of those situations where everything seems upside down and backwards of what you were expecting. If you are (like me) waving a despondent goodbye to your plans for the future, I have good news for you! You can trust in Him who made you. Not to make light of the horrific things that can happen in life, but just to know- you have a God who cannot leave you alone. He will come after you again and again, He will bring fruit out of misery. Beauty out of ashes. Joy for mourning, and praise out of your despair. Somehow. Somehow He does that. It’s what makes him good, awesome, amazing. It’s what makes him God! You might not see that fruit for years, and if that’s the case I’m truly sorry. But maybe you can take a step back right now and begin to realize, “Oh… I see. He has a better plan. It’s better than my plan. This might be hard, but in the long run, I can see- this could be the making of me.”

So thank you, Lord! You do not leave us. You are working in our lives. You have plans we can’t even fathom. Plans to build us into the people you created us to be. Plans to bring Your Kingdom here to earth. Plans for good. Plans for hope. Plans for love! We are sorry that we cannot always trust in Your Plans. We are so sorry that we often fall to anxiety and fear. Renew our hearts to trust in You and to chase after You. In these times of confusion, sorrow, fear, and anxiety- help us to turn our faces fully towards You. I ask for friends and other believers who will come along side us and confirm the work that You are doing in us. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

~Lindsay

*I tend to think of adults as my parents’ generation. I forget to categorize myself in the adult group… just from time to time.

three saguaro cactuses?
three saguaro cactuses?
Found Ya

Found Ya

From the Authors

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to see a bright circle of light coming through our bedroom window. It was super bright and shining right on my face. In a bit of a panic, I called to my husband. My groggy brain had one thought: who would be shining a flashlight through our window in the middle of the night!? Adrenaline kicking in, I sat up and began shaking my husband frantically… At about this time, I came to realize that it wasn’t a flashlight. It was the moon.*

I took a minute to verify that I was safe, that this was a moon shinning through the window (not a flashlight). Took another minute to look around our room, and see how everything was fully illuminated. Then I looked down at my husband who had been smacked and shaken… and he was snoring. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could sleep through almost anything.** I slowly laid back down and stared at the brilliantly, shining moon.

It got me thinking (because the adrenaline wasn’t going to let me go back to sleep anytime soon) how far that light had to travel to get to my window and wake me up. That light came all the way from the sun, which was happily shinning on the other side of the earth. That light had to reach all the way around the earth and bounce off the moon just so it could make it to my bedroom window. I understand how this works scientifically and that it is happening all the time. Right now someone is looking at the moon and I’m sure they aren’t thinking it’s anything unusual or overly special. But seriously, that light had to come a really long way, around a pretty big obstacle, and then reflect off of the moon, and travel another considerably long distance to my bedroom window.***

I laid there thinking how neat light is. And then, of course, how Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” And it felt like God was using that moonlight to say, “Found ya!” You can’t get away from That Guy’s love! He will come any distance, around any obstacle, and more- just to find you. He will come down from heaven, take on the shape of a baby, live in this world, endure the cross, rise from the grave… God will do all that because He loves you.

So then… what are we worrying about!?!?

Paul sums it up for us:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~Romans 8:31-39; emphasis added

Wherever you are right now, God knows. He knows where you are and what you are doing. And right now, right where you are, whatever you are doing- He is loving you. You are His creation. You are precious, wanted, and loved.

We thank you, Lord, that we cannot escape this undeserved unconditional love. We thank you that while we face all sorts of trials in life, the one thing we can always count on is your love. We may not always understand your ways, or the reasons we face hardship. We may feel frightened, alone, angry- we might even despair at times. But through all of this, you are searching us out time and again just to whisper I love you. Help us to hear your voice in all of the noise that surrounds us. Help us to see your hands in all the business of this crazy world. Help us to feel your love and mercy even when we are at the end of our tether and wondering if we have anything left to give. Please fill us up again with Your good things. Fill us up with love and peace, with hope and joy. Help us to trust in the promises you have left us in Your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

*Am I the only one who make ridiculous assumptions in the middle of the night? Assuming the moon is some creepy peeping tom with a flashlight? Assuming that the toilet backing up is an intruder with gastrointestinal problems? Also there is the water softener that every now and then convinces me the basement is on fire…

**In regards to my husband’s ability to continue sleeping, even if a marching band came through our house: 1. This is really not an exaggeration. But 2. While I am the one who always gets up for every little noise in the middle of the night. On the night the stop sign flew through our yard, I was the one who slept through the ordeal. It was my wonderful husband who got up and talked to the police in his pajamas. But this is a story for another day!

***This is where I feel like the seagull from the ‘Little Mermaid.’ When he grabs the crab around the neck and starts shaking him yelling, “Do you understand the words that are comin’ out of my mouth!?!” It’s such a simple idea that I can’t be sure I’m being understood…? Or I just have communication issues…

 

The Motherhood

The Motherhood

From the Authors

 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 IMG_20151225_092113537_HDRCorinthians 13:6-7

This is a hard post to write. Because I am a mother, and I know there are people whose hearts are broken wanting to be mothers. So I don’t want to belittle that desire, or their heartache. I also know that being a mother is the best job in the whole entire world. Something about having that little body snuggle up against you, and hearing those words, “I love you, Mommy.” It’s amazing. Something that cannot be explained in words, at least not by me. Motherhood is beautiful, wonderful, amazing…

and really, really HARD!

Seriously!

We aren’t just talking spilt milk here (although that happens often enough). We are talking about the blood, sweat and tears a mother comes in contact with daily (not to mention the poo- can I mention poo in a blog?). I’m not talking about little inconveniences such as your child deciding broccoli is better if it’s already been chewed and then smeared all over the wall, but the overwhelming feelings of failure as small things pile up on each other. And those feelings can seem insignificant when compared to the heartache of your children’s feelings getting hurt by another child’s words. Then there is the headache of their constant picking on each other and bickering. The loneliness of being the one on the front lines constantly trying to modify poor behaviors*. And all of this would probably be something we could handle, but there seems to be this idea… that mothers should be happy. Bubbly even.

The only thing bubbly about me is the soda I drank yesterday. That’s it.

And it’s not that I don’t love being a mom (this is why this post is so hard, I don’t want to complain about being a mom!). I just don’t want to pretend it is all roses anymore. Like at the grocery store, when I’ve told my children a hundred times not to climb on the toilet paper displays (why is it always bathroom humor for us???), and I find myself calling my children down from the tops of the toilet paper. And I’m trying to use a happy and confident voice to call my children back to me. Because people are looking at me, and I wouldn’t want them to think I’m a horrible mother. But inside I’m thinking, is it okay to yell yet? When can I yell and not look like the worst mom ever?

So I was thinking about this, and I admit to being a fanciful (and flighty) kind of person. And in my head I had a picture of a battlefield and this weary beaten down woman, was pushing herself back up onto her feet again. And all her weariness and bruises and the dirt she was covered in, I thought… that’ me. That’s a mom. Moms are warriors. We are the ones who get back up, and keep trying. Because no one else is going to do this job for us. We have this idea that moms are soft and cuddly and sweet and baking cookies… or whatever. But that’s not it at all. Moms might be soft on the outside, and have nice smiles for everyone, and come up with encouraging words for their children. But on the inside, to be a good mom who is there through thick and thin for her family, a mom needs a core of steel. We need to get up everyday, and pray. We need to get up and reinforce the rules of yesterday (no more climbing on the toilet paper displays!), and we are the only ones who can do this job. We are the only ones who will do this job.

So change that diaper one more time, reiterate the rules, separate the bickering siblings, and march on warrior! It’s okay to admit that the motherhood is hard. It is okay to admit that the motherhood is not glamorous, or even easy. The motherhood is a paradox of joy and sadness, of beautiful moments and horrific scenes with poo on the wall that we shouldn’t even mention in a blog (I repeat: can we mention poo in blogs?). But what makes all the moms I know so wonderful, is that they keep getting back up. They keep on keepin’ on for their children, for their husbands, and for their families.

The fruit of all your mothering labors...? Holding your grandchild's hand.
The fruit of all your mothering labors…? Holding your grandchild’s hand.

I guess I just wanted a moment to be honest, because I’m tired of feeling like a failure if I snap at my children (who did not promptly come down off the toilet paper displays) in public. No one ever said we were perfect, but God entrusted these children to us. These are the children that God gave to me. He has a plan and purpose in me being their mother. It’s okay for me to fail, because I am backed by a God who does not fail at his plans and purposes. It’s freeing really, to know that He is with me. Day in and day out, I am not alone. And neither are you.

Thank you, Lord, that you know we are trying our best. Thank you that you can cover over the cracks in our parenting with your love and grace. We ask that you do so now, fill in those little bits we have missed with your great mercy and love. Please fill us up again this day to be more and more the person you have created us to be. And we agree with your plans for us, for our children, and for our families. We ask your blessing and presence in our lives and in our families. Thank you for your great love! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Not to say that I am parenting solo, my husband is there for me like a hero in shining armor. But he has this thing called a “real job,” so sometimes he misses out on the long and drawn out battles. He just comes home for the aftermath. Which is  almost worse for him. When he comes home to a wife who is literally at her wits end and has no patience, let alone ability to hear and support him. Poor man. Let’s take a moment, and acknowledge the hard work of the husbands….**

**ok, if that moment is done for you, then let’s just remember whose changed more diapers. Not that this is a competition, but I’m just saying. ;)

Bonus Picture, if you made it all the way to the end of this long post! My daughter had to draw a picture of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." I never knew that was such a happy story...?
Bonus Picture, if you made it all the way to the end of this long post! My daughter had to draw a picture of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” I never knew that was such a happy story…?
Here and Now

Here and Now

From the Authors Our Story

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,Jan 27 011
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
~Lamentations 3:22-24

Potty Training.

That is the stage I have entered for the third time in my life. I don’t remember it being enjoyable or easy, but neither do I remember it being so difficult! The bribing and running around and the messes. It is difficult. But I know it won’t last forever and once it is over life is going to be a lot easier (not to mention cheaper… diapers! I tell ya!).

Also, Christmas has passed. We aren’t even through January and, for my children, the blinding luster of new Christmas toys is wearing off. Honestly I was more than disappointed at how quickly I heard the words “bored” and “there’s nothing to do” again. Add to that the son who is already compiling a birthday list- because if he gets these toys then he will “finally have fun.” You want to see a mother turn red in the face and go absolutely ballistic, then (when you add in the potty training) you have found the perfect recipe for that. Ok, I wasn’t exactly ballistic. … More like… Irritated. I was irritated at how little they appreciated all they have.

I was giving my son a good lecture on being thankful when the light bulb turned on again. I was preaching to the choir. I am the one who has not appreciated what I have. I am in the same boat as my son. I am always looking ahead to the next thing, thinking then- finally then!– things will be easier. Once we finish moving, then things will get easier. Once I get through Christmas, then things will settle down and get easier. Once the youngest is potty trained, then life will be splendid. When we make some friends in our new town, then things will be better, I will be happier, etc, etc, etc…

This is why God made me a parent. He has put all of my issues into these adorable little people I am constantly hanging out with and I can’t help noticing their problems. Then He gently says, “Ok, now do you see what I have been trying to tell you?”

Oh.

Right.

I see.

I am so busy planning for a future, running ahead to the next stage of life, and thinking that if I only had one more thing… then life would really be easy. And it causes me to miss out on the gift of here and now. My children won’t ever be this age again. This is my chance to be with them here and now. This is a lesson that I think I need to be reminded of daily. The gift of this moment. The grace of God that causes the sun to rise again every morning. I was lecturing my son on how he needs to appreciate all he has, and I just laughed to myself. Then I hung my head and thought, “I’m sorry, God. I forgot how beautiful You are. How You have put so much beauty into this day, and I just passed by it all. I’m missing it. I’m missing You.”

Because the truth is that nothing is going to fulfill that big open hole in our hearts. No birthday gift, no fully potty trained family. Only God fulfills that need, that hole, that desire. He is the one who does not let us down, who does not give up on us, and who loves us as we are.

So if you need a place to start, start there. Start with being thankful that God is exactly who he says he is. And that He is doing a good work in and through you.

Lord, thank you so much for this day. I am so sorry that I have been trying to do things in my own strength again. I am sorry that I have confused getting things done with true happiness. Make my heart new, and open my eyes to see the beauty that you have woven into my everyday life. Thank you for this season, even if it is hard or lonely. Thank you that you are with me no mater what. In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

 

Under the Desk

Under the Desk

From the Authors Music Video

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ~Luke 2:7

We have three young children. It is a really wonderful and fun time of life. It can also really be tiring (I need a nap). However, the one thing life never is- is dull. Life is not dull with three young children. No.

Which brings me to the dilemma of Christmas present shopping. We need a babysitter to go pick out Christmas presents. And yes, we both need to go. I have proven that I have terrible taste in gifts (picking out only educational* (aka non-fun) gifts, or cheap gifts that break quickly). And maybe I could leave it all to my husband, but where is the fun in that? So we got a babysitter. I was overly optimistic that my youngest was going to do well with a babysitter. He had survived the first test run with her. We had put a movie on as soon as she arrived and returned home while the movie was still going. I don’t think he even noticed we’d left the house. So yes, I was over confident that this date was going to go well. … … Until the babysitter texted us before we’d even finished our dinner (we were making it a real date):

[The youngest] ran upstairs about 15 minutes ago. He won’t come back down. He is hiding under the computer desk with his blanket and says he won’t come out until you come home. He is okay as long as I don’t go by him. What should I do?

I saw that text, stood up, and headed for the door. My husband, slightly more sane and less impulsive than I am, slowed me down. We called the babysitter and made sure she was okay with the situation. We gave her a few ideas to ‘lure’ him out, and then I sat through the rest of dinner with the phone clutched tightly in my hand waiting for her to text or call me with more news. The genius babysitter turned on his favorite TV show, and this led to him coming to the top of the stairs, and then he sat on the stairs to watch his show, and by the time we came home he was sitting at the kitchen table playing Gone Fishing with big sister and the babysitter.

Now here’s the thing. I get my youngest. I understand two-year-olds. Because I’m still a lot like him. I don’t want to try new things. I like things the way they are. Change is scary and hard. I want to hide under the computer desk with my blankie at times too. Thankfully I have a level headed man who takes me by the hand and drags me out into society. And thankfully I have a grace filled God who relentlessly pursues me.

Relentlessly.

All throughout time you can see God pursuing His People. And foolishly we keep messing up. We turn to other gods, we think we can do it ourselves, we chose evil… we mess up! But Advent, this time of year, it’s not about presents (educational or not). It’s not even about the cookies (I do love the cookies). This time of year is the reminder that even though we are the sinners, the mess makers, the unworthy, God who is infinitely worthy and holy has chosen us. He has come into this world to redeem and reclaim us. And what has He given us? The very things we are pleading for: forgiveness, peace, rest, redemption, grace. We are filled to overflowing, when we let ourselves be filled and satisfied with Jesus Christ.

As this Christmas season is quickly advancing, I keep thinking how I need a little rest. And how perfectly this song fits into our busy Christmas schedules. If I were a part in the Christmas story, I think I would (unfortunately) be the Inn Keeper. So busy with my own little mundane tasks, that I would miss the birth of my savior, right down the street. So inwardly focused on wanting my own rest and peace, that I would not realize the Prince of Peace had arrived. I have been reflection on this a lot, as I listen to one of my favorite Christmas CDs. I hope you enjoy this song by Jason Gray:

Lord, you came! You did it! You found a way into our world, and into our hearts. Help us to be more aware of You, and all that you have done. Help our hearts to turn towards You, help our ways to be more like your ways. Help us to be more like the shepherds, willing to drop everything and run to worship you! Help us to stop looking in the wrong places for peace and rest, but to trust in You. To find our peace and rest in You. Thank you that you came! Thank you that you relentlessly pursue us- that no matter how many mistakes we make, you do not shame us or hurt us. Instead you fill us with your love and peace. Again and again, you extend peace and love to us. Thank you! In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*this year I picked out a fraction game for my eldest. Yes, a fraction game. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it? This is the kind of present my child will bring up later in life as a sort of comedic horror story for everyone. I see ‘educational’ and I think ‘great!’

Obstacle or Opportunity

Obstacle or Opportunity

From the Authors

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

My grandpa used to say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I remember these words. I even mutter this phrase to myself from time to time. Usually for little things, like when I stub my toe. Another family favorite is Grandpa’s motto, “If all else fails, use brute force.” I don’t recall ever hearing him say this, but this was his go to method for dealing with difficult situations (like when we couldn’t get a pickle jar open).

There is a family story about a time when he was traveling abroad. Grandpa had been on the road a long time and wanted to get into this hotel room to get some rest. But he couldn’t get the door to his hotel room open. So, remembering his days as a football player, he did what came naturally to him and busted the door down with his shoulder. Only to later realize that the door was supposed to be pulled open, instead of pushed. We laugh about these shenanigans and know that he laughed too. While this is one memory, what else do I remember about my grandpa? He was born in a small town in North Dakota, became VP in a big company, traveled the world, and even met some pretty famous people (I won’t name drop here, though it is tempting). These are things he did. The legacy he left was that he never let obstacles define him. He never let obstacles stop him. Instead, he let obstacles strengthen him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 has alternately encouraged and frustrated me. Encouraged, because I really believe it. Frustrated because I have at times shouted, “Really!? You’re going to somehow make this good!?” Or maybe because it’s quoted at the absolutely worst moments. This is not a verse I want to hear right after losing a loved one. But I do believe in God’s Word. And I do trust Him. So… hard as it is at times, I always fall back on this verse. And when Grandpa said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” I think he meant Romans 8:28. Some things are really hard to get through. But- (BIG but here*)- when we’ve walked through all the hardships and come out on the other side, that’s when we can look back and see God’s sustaining hand guiding us, holding us, and helping us. That’s when we begin to realize that He is sovereign and He can pull good out of the bad, light out of the dark, miracles out of nothing.

And as long as I’m quoting people- a friend of mine recently said, “Maybe the answer to our prayers is us.” Meaning, instead of praying and then sitting back and waiting for God to move (like he’s some kind of good luck charm or a genie in a bottle). Maybe the answer to our prayers is for us to move. Not recklessly or without reason, but with His peace and passion in our hearts. I told my husband this thought and he said, “Yep. I suppose everyone would have drowned if Noah hadn’t build the boat.” In the end someone has to do something. Someone has to reach out a helping hand, lend a shoulder to cry on, love when it is hard to love, and more. And who could possibly do all those things?

Us.

Me. You. The Body of Christ. The Children of God. Those of us who have chosen Jesus as our savior and received Holy Spirit as our comforter. We’re kinda it.

So, tag! You’re it! Your turn to be an answer to prayer. You have one gigantic backer in this, so their is no need to fear! As Grandpa would say, “Go get ’em!”

Lord, thank you that you have saved us by your son’s blood. Thank you that you gave your all. Help us to be the kind of people who give our all for You. Change our hearts to be filled with love, and give us the confidence we need to be the ones who chase after your ways and not the world’s ways. Bless us to be your hands and feet. Thank you that you never give up on us. Thank you that some how, we can co-labor along side you and even through us (the messed up, sinners, confused, timid and afraid) you can work your miracles. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*ha ha ha…. I made a joke…**

**sorry, I have kids, this is the humor level we are at right now.

Muffins for Everyone!

Muffins for Everyone!

From the Authors
daughter in the corn pit (it's a Midwestern thing... I think?)
daughter in the corn pit (it’s a Midwestern thing… I think?)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. ~James 3:13

I recently signed up to bring muffins to a pot luck. This was not one of my brighter ideas. I really don’t enjoy making muffins. I only have one pan that doesn’t burn muffins, and have never gone out and bought another pan… so making more than one batch of muffins was going to be time consuming. And also… I am a procrastinator. In this case, I told myself that day old muffins are no good, so that was my excuse. But in all honesty, it was my procrastinating-nature at its finest. So the night before, I was scrambling to make muffins. Really nice fancy muffins that would impress the other moms and let them know that I care about health and am an excellent chef (and somehow convey the message that I am a good person? do you ever get that feeling at potlucks?). I was looking for something that had flax seed and berries. Not having either on hand, reality came calling, and I decided to go for the applesauce and banana bread muffins. Mostly because I had all the ingredients, and if you add chocolate chips, my kids will eat them (my kids will eat anything if chocolate chips are added… I suppose that is also true for me). Well, long story short, I had one batch done. And the idea of starting over was… annoying. So I did what any respectable woman would do- I called my man. I asked him to pick up muffins and bring some home with him. Then I smiled to myself, and patted myself on the back. “Job well done!” I may not impress the other moms, but I would be going to bed on time. So there was reason to celebrate.

Then my husband came home with two boxes of muffin mix.

I looked stupidly at those boxes, then at my husband, and then at the boxes again. Sensing that something was wrong, he tentatively asked me what it was. I just blinked, “Didn’t I ask you to bring home muffins?” He nodded, adding that he knew I was making muffins for the potluck tomorrow. And I just kept staring stupidly at those two boxes, not willing to reach out and grab them. Then he asked that dangerous questions all husbands must bravely ask from time to time, “Are you mad?”

IMG_20150919_094548280_HDR
I don’t care how old you are, flying kites is the best. Well… I suppose right behind coffee and pie.

And for once, thankfully, I could say, “No.” I was just amazed. I can finish this man’s sentences. We have been married for more than ten years. He will call up from the basement, “Do you know where the-” and before he can finish the sentence, I am telling him where the thing is. So it just amazes me that we can still have these moments of colossal miscommunication.

Now, I know, muffin mix is not a big deal. But, trust me, we have far worse communication mishaps all the time. Communication is one of those things that boggles my mind. I always think I am so clear about something, only to find that the other person was apparently having a conversation with a totally different person (because I sure don’t remember the conversation going that way). Or even the way we misinterpret body language. I recently was trying to figure out why a woman was so mad at me, only to have her come up and give me a big hug two minutes later. So I’ve been puzzling through how I could be a better communicator. And I just had some of my best friends over for a visit, and was reflecting about their communication skills and wondering why we did so well at communicating. And I made a little communication list (to get you started, by no means a complete list- also not a list complied by anyone with any kind of degree in anything beyond math…) to help me out as I am trying to make new friends in a new town*.

  1. be honest
  2. be kind (no brutal honesty)
  3. repeat back what you think you heard (“So what you’re saying is [fill in the blank with your take on the conversation]”)
  4. make sure you clear up confusion right away (“When you said [this], did you mean [fill in the blank]?”)
  5. if you’re hurt or confused- say so!
  6. make sure you tell the person you care for them regularly (and probably you should give them pie or something so they know you love them, cupcakes work too.)

Now let me just say 5 was a real hard one for me. I was still in elementary school mode in my twenties, thinking that if you ever tell a friend they hurt you, they would leave. But I learned from one of my dear friends, that in a real relationship this isn’t true. Early on in our friendship she came and told me about something that I had said that hurt her. And it was shocking to me the first time. Because, of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her. But it was nice that she got it said, I could apologize and clear up the situation, and it’s started a solid trusting foundation in our relationship.

you know that time you take your kids to the park, and the wind is so awful that you turn into a popsicle at the bottom of the slide?
you know that time you take your kids to the park, and the wind is so awful that you turn into a popsicle at the bottom of the slide?

Why is communication important? Well, I could argue so that you don’t end up with box muffin mixes when you wanted muffins-without-all-the-hassle. But what I will say is, how are we going to communicate the love of Christ to others if we can’t even tell the person we know best what we want him to pick up at the grocery store? How?

And how did the muffin dilemma end, you wonder? One of my children and I just ran to town and bought the muffins and a treat for ourselves- a fun date! And the next day, I got myself and the kids all ready and bundled into the car and off to the potluck right on time! Only to realize I had forgotten all the muffins at home [picture me banging my head against the steering wheel in the car (at a stop light- don’t worry!)]. So we stopped and got even more muffins and brought those to the potluck**. The next day my husband brought all the forgotten muffins (now a day old) to work. Muffins for everyone!

Lord, thank you that you have given us words and ways to communicate. Help us to communicate with our loved ones in ways that honor and glorify you. Help us to learn to communicate clearly, so that through our words you could be glorified around the world. Help us to be willing to be vulnerable and authentic with others. Bless our words. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Uhm, we moved. And I talk about it a lot in the blog. So mentioning it in detail again seemed… boring. :)

**disadvantage of living 20 minutes outside of town.

 

The Lies We Believe (Part 2)

The Lies We Believe (Part 2)

Encouragement From the Authors

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
~Psalm 139:14

Last week I started a post on the lies I easily believe. The first lie I tend to fall for is the idea that I can be ‘good enough’ (or holy and righteous) in my own strength. (For more on that click here) However, there is a flip side, a second lie, that I easily fall for. And that is the lie that I am not good enough. Kinda funny that I would be falling for two lies that are exact opposites, but I do. It was sort of an ‘ah-ha! moment’ for me. And I found great humor in the absurdity in it… but also some sadness.

IMG_20140906_151759265The not good enough lie could be called ‘discouragement.’ And again, comparison and judgment can play a big part in believing this lie*. It’s the lie that we will never be pretty enough, smart enough, fast enough, strong enough, fill-in-the-blank enough. Whether we get the idea from our own ideals, from others in our lives, or even from the media- that lie can slip in and whisper harmful untruths to us. We might actually give up. And that’s what makes this lie so dangerous- so I will say it again: believing this lie, might cause us to give up.

So here is the truth: We were lovingly and uniquely made for a specific purpose that is solely ours. And since we are the only ones God has given that purpose to, we cannot give up. And to “not give up” would mean to persevere.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. ~James 1:12

And another truth: we are all good enough to be loved. We are all good enough to join the family of Christ if we are willing to put our trust in Him. Jesus died on a cross between two criminals. And just like those criminals we have not been perfect, and are not good enough on our own to be considered righteous and holy in God’s eyes. But also like those criminals we have a choice on how we react to God’s love, to Jesus’ sacrifice. We can scoff and doubt, or we can call on Jesus. And when we put our faith in Him, we can stop worrying about being good enough, because we are loved right where we are.

Thus concludes episode one (a two post tale?) of ‘Random Thoughts With Lindsay.’ I know. Thrilling stuff (no, not really). It’s kinda funny where my mind wanders off to at any given moment. I’m usually not too serious, so this post was hard to write. Because I want to expound upon every little thing, and also make a few jokes to keep things light and fluffy. But really, who has time for that? Hopefully I got some wheels turning in your noggin? Not that mine are turning so smoothly these days. My last grocery episode involved a colossal error- I came home with a bag of decaf coffee instead of the full throttle stuff I need. But never one to waste food, I’ve been muddling my way through the fuzzy caffeine-less mornings…**

Thanks for reading!

~Lindsay

May the Lord who loves you, created you, and wants to be your friend bless you with the knowledge that you are someone of great value and worth. May your heart be full of His love and understanding for you, and for the person He created you to be. May your eyes be open to the paths He is opening up before you, and may you be filled with the boldness to go where He calls you. In Jesus name, Amen!

*I talked about comparison last week too. But let me just say again, that comparison is not good. It is placing ourselves above or below others. It is trying to make ourselves into the judge. That’s not our role (thank goodness!), so we can give up that job and find something more in line with our abilities. (Whew!)

**If you see a post with a long line of gibberish towards the end, assume I fell asleep, landed on the keyboard and it somehow posted.

Sept 19 003
What? Are you still reading? Are you wondering about the pictures? If I don’t explain the pictures, I always feel bad. Someone surely is wondering what is going on. Well, not being a professional photographer, or even a professional blogger- I never have what I would call ‘appropriate’ pictures that tie in well with the blog post. So I usually pick a theme and run with it. This weeks’ theme is: Random Septembers. All of these pictures were taken in September, although in three different years. This one I liked the best. I would title it, “My Friend’s Nice Shoes.” See why I am not a professional photographer. I think I got a picture of a turtle, but really it’s just a blurry blob with some nice kicks in the background.
The Lies We Believe (Part 1)

The Lies We Believe (Part 1)

Daily Notes From the Authors

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. ~Ephesians 1:17

Oct 3 035So School started, and blogging gets lost in the shuffle. I haven’t misplaced a child yet (knock on wood), but neither do I feel overly successful so far this school year. I feel more like a very large and weighed down train slowly chugging out of the station and trying to gain traction so that we can establish our routine and really get moving. But all the while I’m running around (repeatedly checking that 3 little ducklings are in a row behind me), I’m thinking of blog ideas. So prepare yourself for some ‘random thoughts from Lindsay.’ The good news is this was a two-part thought, so it will get us through two weeks together! Woo hoo! (I even sound like a train?)

So, here we go:

It occurred to me recently that there are two big lies that I easily believe.

The first lie is that I am good enough. I’m not being hard on myself when I say this is a lie. And I’m not into self-bashing. We all have good points, we all have less-than-stellar points. But what I’m talking about here is the idea that we can do this ourselves. That in our own strength we can be “good enough” for God. That we can be ‘sinless’ or ‘holy.’ If that is the case, then Jesus’ sacrifice was superfluous. And that would be a lie. The cross is necessary for all of us. Not just the really awful people in the world, but all people. We all make mistakes, we all need forgiveness, we all need Jesus.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all
~Isaiah 53:6

There is more to believing the lie of “I am good enough.” Because I can come to this conclusion by looking around at other people. We might get the idea that we are better than so-and-so. And that person we really look up to, well, we have a lot of similarities with them. So we’re right in the middle of the pack. We’re not so bad. We’re good enough. … Right? The problem with this thinking is that we are comparing, we are judging* others, and we are just trying to blend in with a crowd.

Christ has not called us to ‘blend in with the crowd.’ He has called us to be a holy, set apart people.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people ~Ephesians 1:18

The short of it: We need Jesus, and He is the only one we should be looking to for comparison. He is the one we will never measure up to, but He is also the one who didn’t just reach down to pull us out of the pit. He came down, willing to die for our sake. He came down because of his love. Instead of trusting in our own worth, we can choose to trust in His Love.

Lord, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, so that I can be forgiven and a part of your holy people. I am so sorry for the times I have thought I was able to live this life in my own strength. And I am so thankful for how you continually keep reaching out to help me. When I am tempted to judge my life based on the lives of those around me, help me to remember that I cannot walk a mile in their shoes. Help me instead to have grace and compassion for those around me. Please change and soften my heart to be more like yours. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*There is only one judge. And we are not Him.

Bonus picture. I call this, "What happens when I take my children shopping." Or the shorter version, "Whose children are these?"
Bonus picture! (And yes, all of those are dancing, singing Christmas dolls) I call this, “What happens when I take my children shopping.” Or the shorter version, “Whose children are these?”

 

 

The Church is Beautiful

The Church is Beautiful

From the Authors
Grandpa and Grandson
Grandpa and Grandson

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. ~Matthew 18:20

I’m sorry to mention moving again. But it is the season we are in, so it is what I’m always reflecting on. It still feels like we are in the middle of moving. Even though we officially ‘moved’ eight months ago. I should say we moved all our stuff eight months ago. But it takes longer to move your hearts. This weekend I went back to our old stomping ground and we went to the church we had been attending for ten years before our move.

I walked into that familiar building and thought to myself, “The Church is beautiful.” Not the building (though ours is nice enough), but the people. It was like coming home. Our church really is a church family. I walked in and was hugged and welcomed like a long lost daughter returning home for a visit. There are people in that church family that feel like spiritual mamas and papas to me. Friends that feel like family. And everything is familiar and comfortable. The place was full of love for me.

I had one moment, where a woman I really look up to, came over to say hello, and I nearly burst into tears. I think it’s because she’s one of those women who prays, and prays, and then prays some more. She looked at me, and I felt like God used her love and care for me to reach out and put His finger right on a sore part of my heart. I suddenly realized that after all these months of moving and adjusting and being so busy, I hadn’t really noticed how lonely I have been. Relationships take time to build, so I don’t think this is a problem that I’m going to fix overnight. But it was nice to return to the familiar and to know that I am loved.

This is the Church. People. God uses our hands and feet to accomplish His Work on earth. He uses our words and actions to set hearts into motion towards Him. He uses our thoughts and dreams to spur us on to greater purpose in Him. It’s amazing really. This almighty, all powerful God chooses us- the weak and lowly, the sinners, the misfits, the bumbling and confused. He uses us to accomplish His Work on earth. It is perhaps the most miraculous thing He does. He has already won*. He is winning**. His plan and purpose is moving forward***. And we are a part of that.

Now the reason I even wanted to blog about this is something my friend said to me. After sharing how I’ve been feeling with her, she said, “I guess that’s what makes community so important. Because wherever two or three are gathered, Jesus is in the midst of them.” We need community to help us feel close to God. God is always close to us. He is with us- Emmanuel; God with us. We are the ones who get distracted and discouraged. We are the ones who need others to encourage us. We are the ones who need community. We need the Church. And though we are not perfect, we, The Church, are beautiful. Because where two or more are gathered, God is in the midst of us.

today's blog post is all random summer pictures, because why not?
today’s blog post is all random summer pictures, because why not?
My Grandma and Great-Grandma. Before women could wear shorts?
My Grandma and Great-Grandma. Before women could wear shorts?
This is a summer vacation that is probably fuzzy in a few memories...
This is a summer vacation that is either completely gone, or a little bit fuzzy in a few memories… (Bahahahaha!)

Lord God, I thank you for your Church! I thank you for the people you have put into our lives that draw us nearer to You, and I thank you for the people you will bring into our lives who will draw us nearer to You. Please bless our hands and feet to do what You have purposed us for. Please fill our hearts and minds with Your Words, Your Love, and Your Thoughts. Help us to see the good in others, and to call out that good. Help us to be encouragers, to love people as they are, and to bless. For our friends and family, and even us, help us to be in community with the Church. That we would be in Your Presence, and our hearts would be in tune with Your Heart. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*John 19:30 “When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

**1 John 2:8 “Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”

***Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

****What is up with these weird blog pictures that have nothing to do with the blog? Well, what kind of pictures would I have that would be ‘church’ pictures? I thought about how a church can feel like a family, and went looking for some family pictures. I wanted summer pictures, because it’s nice out and I thought the Christmas family pictures would be confusing… then I just kept finding summer vacation pictures that made me smile, so I put them all in the blog post. Because honestly, I’m the kind of person who looks at the pictures, but doesn’t always read the blog.